Google Checkout Blog

Stop. Think. Connect. to protect yourself from fake Checkout invoices.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

In keeping with our commitment to security for our users, and in recognition of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we wanted to encourage everyone to be wary of spoofed Google Checkout invoices that try to trick users into sending money to scammers. A spoofed invoice is an invoice designed to look like it came from someone else — in this case, Google Checkout. We’re finding that these spoofed invoices are often related to fraudulent vehicle purchases, where the scammer persuades the buyer that the high-cost purchase will be protected by Google Checkout. In fact, the transaction is fraudulent and has nothing to do with Google Checkout.

Buyers have reported that the spoofed invoices are designed to look similar to Google Checkout invoices, with one important exception: payment is requested through wire transfer, money transfer services such as Western Union or Moneygram, or direct bank transfers. This is a clear scam signal because Google Checkout does NOT support money transfers in any of these ways.

A typical scam might look like this:

You are searching online to buy a car and find a listing for something you like at an incredible price. When you contact the seller, they suggest that you use Google Checkout to pay for the car. Then, they send you what they claim is a Google Checkout invoice that lists the price and has instructions on how to send them the money. The red flag, again, is that the invoice has instructions on how to wire money via Western Union or Moneygram, or via direct bank transfers.

Here are some additional tips for safer shopping and recognizing scams:
  • Google Checkout currently supports payments made by credit or debit cards only. If a seller suggests you can pay via wire or bank transfer with your Checkout account, don’t proceed with the transaction; it’s likely fraudulent.
  • Scammers may reference the terms “Verified Google Checkout Agent,” “Regional Manager,” “Purchase Protection Account,” or some other form of escrow account in their spoofed invoice. None of these terms are used on Checkout.
  • Scammers may request high dollar transactions to be broken down into smaller payments, sometimes with each payment going to a different person.
  • The price of the goods you are interested in purchasing seems too good to be true, or the seller claims to have the new hot item that is sold out everywhere else.
If you received a fake Google Checkout invoice, you may wish to file a report with the appropriate authorities and/or your regional fraud reporting center — such as the Internet Crime Complaint Center (, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center. For more information on scams in general, please see this post on the Google Security Blog.

Posted by Steven Chen, Manager, Trust & Safety